Slaughter of the cyclists in the Cotter (OK OK, no one is dead)

johnboy 30 April 2007 93

[First filed: April 29, 2007 @ 13:40]

The ABC informs us that a group of racing cyclists have had an unfortunate meeting with a four wheel drive on the Cotter Road.

About five cyclists were in the group that was hit just after 10:00am AEST.

Two have been taken to the Canberra Hospital.

One is in a critical condition and the other in a serious condition.

The injured cyclists were believed to have been competing in the Canberra Cycling Tour

UPDATED: Our snouts in the cycling community offer the following insight:

The Canberra Tour is an annual two-day event which attracts all kinds of interstate and top road cyclists. This year was the 24th time it has run. It involves many different grades — men, women, juniors — and a number of different kinds of races for each grade. Most of these races involve numerous laps of a course, and because there are so many races happening it is very difficult to close roads — many major roads would have to be closed for the entire weekend which is just not practical.

It is understood the accident happened in the women’s B Grade race, which was fairly small. Apparently a couple of the cyclists in the bunch touched wheels, causing them to fall and inevitably bringing down the rest of group. It is understood some of the group fell into the path of an oncoming vehicle. Without preempting any investigation, it is understood there was little the driver would have been able to do in the conditions.

Apparently one of the two cyclists hit was in a coma pretty much at the scene and word is she was given CPR at the scene. Apparently her husband was riding in the men’s A grade race that come down on the same route 10 minutes after the accident.

The cycling community is preparing for a big discussion about how better safety, or road closures, can be managed for these big events.

ANOTHER UPDATE: The ABC reports that the organisers are now going to try and get the road closed in future.

More: This is the only local news on the Canberra Times today. Firstly a padded piece on the basic detail with some bum covering by the race organisers followed by a list of anyone to ever be hurt riding a bicycle anywhere. They also have calls from the NRMA to end cycle racing on open roads.

IMHO more interesting is a comment here by our very own FB:

On Sat morning a a few mates & myself headed out to Namadgi to do a bit of 4WDing. We came back around 2:00pm along Brindabella Road then up Cotter road. The exact route of the race. We were driving in a Jeep Wrangler set up for off roading with a big F%@k off bull bar. We passed dozens of idiots on bikes & I made the comment to my mate that someone was going to get hit, it was just a matter of when.

More then once we would go around a corner to find a group coming at us with some crazy idiot trying to overtake on the inside, riding with his wheels ON the centre line. They wouldn’t even back off when they saw us coming at them, they would just ride straight at us and make us put two wheels off the road to avoid them. We even had the same thing happen with a lone cyclist. The attitude of the cyclists seemed to be that it was their road.

Comment by FB — 30 April, 2007 @ 10:14 am


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93 Responses to Slaughter of the cyclists in the Cotter (OK OK, no one is dead)
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johnboy johnboy 3:56 pm 30 Apr 07

Perhaps we can all agree that race organisers need to be disqualifying cyclists who veer into the other lane when competing on open roads?

I have to say though it sounds quite terrifying to have to try and overtake a pack of cyclists on the twisty bits of the cotter road.

Just dangerous all round.

snowstorm snowstorm 3:37 pm 30 Apr 07

Hahaha. I was only joking. Can’t believe 4WD lovers took my intentionally inflammatory comments seriusly. They clearly have about as much humour as they have regard for pedestrians, other motorists, or the atmosphere.

If you don’t own a farm, chuck the 4WD out. There really is no need to own one. Why not donate it to the good people of Iraq or Afghanistan, who actually need such monsters to get about.

BTW, I don’t drive. Or cycle. I live and work in Kingston and walk everywhere. If can’t get there on foot or the 80 or 38, I don’t go there at all (but don’t get me started about the crappy canberra buses!)

Ralph Ralph 3:20 pm 30 Apr 07

The Govt should increase the rego fees for 4WDs as they are essentially light trucks (many coming in at the 2T mark or above).

I think they already do. Mine is registered as a light truck but this might have something to do with it having a tray on the back.

Genie Genie 2:52 pm 30 Apr 07

I hate people who drive 4wd’s and dont take them offroad… seriously Why would you pay that much money for a car that kills more people on the roads than smaller (cheaper to run) cars.

I drive a tiny car and i hate that whenever i have to park my car somewhere – its usually between 2 4wd’s, reversing out and trying to locate any oncoming traffic is almost impossible. And i agree with Kramer.. The Govt should definately increase rego fee’s for the larger cars and make people sit another test to make sure they can actually drive it. They are so high up compared to the ‘normal’ cars people learn to drive in..

Wonder whats going to happen when Holden start selling Hummers mid year ??

Kramer Kramer 2:50 pm 30 Apr 07

Also there has been a lot of bagging of road cyclists (as always on RiotACT) about their behaviour on the Cotter roads, but I am certain that if you stood on one of the many high speed corners on Brindabella Road on any weekend you would not only see cyclists crossing the centre double lines, but also motorbikes and cars out fanging a loop around the Cotter.

Kramer Kramer 2:48 pm 30 Apr 07

I think closing the road for the event would have been a great idea, but the reality of closing all of those roads in the Cotter would have outraged residents, tourists, 4WD drivers 🙂 , and other road users. Maybe things like reduced vehicle speed limits during the event, and lead and sweep vehicles for the cyclists would have helped in this case.

Kramer Kramer 2:39 pm 30 Apr 07

The Govt should increase the rego fees for 4WDs as they are essentially light trucks (many coming in at the 2T mark or above). Due to their heavier weight they do more damage to the roads and environment, so in our user pays system they should cough up the pennies. Also I agree that people driving 4WDs should be made to sit a heavy vehicle driving test, as many seem to use a 4WD to compensate for lack of driving ability.

ozmreeee ozmreeee 2:35 pm 30 Apr 07

… it was an elite event not a primary school fun day.

I have to admit, I’m getting all of my information on this incident third hand, but it seems to me that the organisation for this event was far from elite. If it is an elite event, then why were riders put in the potentially (and subsequently revealed to be actual) dangersous position of competing with cars for space on the road? Surely, it was obvious to everyone that the racers would use the full width of the road?

Even Les implied that this would be the case – … It’s a sensational spectator sport so pull over and watch the tactics of the bunch …

So, I think the fault here lies directly with the organisers who were lacking in their planning in not arranging for the road to be closed during the race.

Steve Steve 2:30 pm 30 Apr 07

Maybe it’s 4WDs that should be kept off public roads. They cause far more deaths than cyclists do, and are about as useful as common sense to a politician

In future–stick to dirt tracks, or move to the US. Your kind is welcome only over there.

I highly doubt that – not that im a 4wd lover (i feel that you should need a licence condition to drive vehicles over 1750kg – one that requires a driving course to get) but (deaths/km travelled) for 4wd’s would presumably be lower than for cyclists.

Bartron Bartron 2:09 pm 30 Apr 07

Snowstorm – My car is 4wd (or AWD, however you want to put it…same difference though)….do I count in that statistic? Where do you draw the line between passenger car and “vehicle designed for offroad use”…how do people get between offroad locations or are they stuck in the one spot?

Think…use your head and stop trolling.

The statistics might say one thing but for every bike rider hit, how many near misses were there? There is a grey area between ‘safety’ and ‘dangerous’ and I think this accident shows that these big bike rides are wandering too far towards the dangerous side of things…..just becasue there are little/no accidents doesn’t mean it’s safe.

skaboy12 skaboy12 2:05 pm 30 Apr 07

snowstorm,
I do not drive a 4WD nor am I a fan of them being used to run the kids to school everyday, but if you don’t want them on the roads then please inform the rest of us how they are meant to get to the dirt tracks that you mention.
I am not sure what you drive, but if it something I don’t like should it be taken off the road? I don’t like Holdens so maybe we should get rid of them?? And I hate cars that can’t do 0-100 in less than 10 secs, because they hold up traffic at the lights, maybe they should go too?

snowstorm snowstorm 1:47 pm 30 Apr 07

Maybe it’s 4WDs that should be kept off public roads. They cause far more deaths than cyclists do, and are about as useful as common sense to a politician

In future–stick to dirt tracks, or move to the US. Your kind is welcome only over there.

James-T-Kirk James-T-Kirk 1:17 pm 30 Apr 07

damm – alos = also…

James-T-Kirk James-T-Kirk 1:16 pm 30 Apr 07

“But the other comment about cyclists who use the various options open to them to get places quicker, such as onto paths and back to the road, is based on pure jealousy and spite.”

No – it is not based on jealousy – I personally ride. It is based on the fact that it is a PEDESTRIAN crossing (meaning foot), so the cyclist should dismount.

That behavoiur is just the start: The distance between being ‘legal’ and running a red light is about 6 feet. It just takes time till the cyclist decides not to bother to swerve onto the crossing, and go straight through on the road.

I wonder if the cyclists who do this are alos happy to use a car park, or a driveway of a service station to ‘avoid’ a red light (in their cars of course).

Where is the line?

Miranda Miranda 1:13 pm 30 Apr 07

From the Canberra Times:

“Earlier yesterday, a 43-year-old woman was fatally injured when the car in which she was a passenger left the roadway in Outtrim Avenue, Calwell, and hit a letterbox about 2am.

This is not related to the Canberra Tour cycling race. Perhaps 104.7 had things mixed up?

Genie Genie 12:50 pm 30 Apr 07

No one is dead. The cyclist worst affected in is ICU in a very critical condition. Please people, she’s not dead. Have some thought for her family.

Whilst driving home at 630am this morning FM 104.7 reported that there had been a fatality during yesterdays race. A 43yr old woman died after clipping tires with another racer and fell into the path of a 4wd driver and killed instantly – Does the radio have it wrong AGAIN ??

Anyone know more ??

And if they are going to have a road race with alot of cyclists – why the hell WASNT the road closed!!??!!

JD114 JD114 12:37 pm 30 Apr 07

An emotive issue here but let’s have some balance and stop going off like a bunch of crackers at Chinese New Year. The injured cyclists were the victims of an accident. When one undertakes an activity of this sort there are known risks, and the cyclists were prepared to take the known risks. Something happened beyond the control of anyone on the day and some cyclists paid the penalty. But, and this is a big but, compared to the number of cyclists out and about over the weekend, and out and about over the months since the previous accident, the rate of injuries and accidents is, in the overall scheme of things, quite small.

To point out where the balance has been lost in this debate, consider the road death over the weekend. I haven’t seen anyone calling for the closing of the road where that accident took place, or a review of whether female passsengers should be in cars after dark, or whether the road in question should be closed after dark, or any of a myriad of possible ways to prevent another tragedy in the same spot.

So, before people jump up and down and say that this race on that road is inherently dangerous, stop and look at the history and the statistics. If the statisitcs are so far skewed towards the dangerous end of the spectrum then by all means consider taking measures, but if not as I suspect one would find, then leave people to have fun and accept a small risk in their lives.

By the way I am a regular cyclist and I agree with some of the comments above about the stupid thoughtless cyclists who occupy more road space than is absolutely necessary, I personally feel that unless there’s an organised event even two abreast riding should be banned, knowing how much it gets motorists offside. When my group has to ride on the road we do so in single file until we reach deserted roads where it’s safe to ride abreast, and even then if a vehicle is approaching from behind we’ll go back to single file until it has passed.

But the other comment about cyclists who use the various options open to them to get places quicker, such as onto paths and back to the road, is based on pure jealousy and spite. Although such behaviour might appear to the idle lethargic and cosseted car driver as potentially dangerous, it’s not, as long as the cyclist has good vision and a clear path, which in Canberra is more abundant than most people realise.

joeyjo joeyjo 11:52 am 30 Apr 07

You know what’s really dumb? Not having a bike lane on a major road that leads to a dedicated cycling facility.

Steve Steve 11:52 am 30 Apr 07

johnboy: true, but like police arresting street racers – i can’t help but think there are better uses for police time.

johnboy johnboy 11:49 am 30 Apr 07

I know that the law basically states that riders can’t be more than two abreast, however this isn’t particularly practical in racing, and would be nearly impossible to enforce.

Seems pretty easy to enforce, if police can go out and arrest drag racers (number of drag racing related accidents this year? anyone?) they can go out to cycle racing hot spots and arrest all those more than two abreast and confiscate their bikes.

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